On Open Theism

I was once asked by a friend about open theism, what I thought. He had apparently been influenced by its teachings. God gave me an opportunity to speak some truth and give the brother a different perspective, maybe lead him to re-examine Scripture. Unfortunately, as usually happens when God gives me an opportunity to serve Him, my pride, arrogance, and foolishness got in the way. I was as loving, wise, and skillful as an old elephant trying to dribble a soccer ball. Ya, that bad. I came off as an arrogant jerk, rightly so because that is how I acted, and left my friend unchallenged. I have made a legion of mistakes in my life, and that goes on my list of some of the most regrettable ones. The question is; how should I have answered my friend? What is open theism, and what does Scripture teach about it? Let’s look at open theism, and then what Scripture says about its beliefs, what fulfilled and supposedly failed prophecy indicates, and what the Nature of God seems to say. This post presupposes the Bible’s absolute authority over philosophy, science, experience, and all human wisdom; and that the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic[1] is the best tool we have today for understanding the authorial intent of the Biblical authors and, with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, allows us to grasp what God intended believers throughout time to understand from His Scriptures.

According to Open theists God created a non-deterministic universe “in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God”[2]. God could have made a deterministic universe where the future was knowable, but He chose not to. Open theists believe in libertarian free will,[3] and it is because of this that they conclude God made a non-deterministic universe. The future is partly determinate and God knows this portion of the future, this would be all the events God determines to happen, and the rest is indeterminate, as such God only knows possibilities of what will happen.[4] The argument for open theism is largely philosophical stemming out of a presupposed belief in Libertarian freewill, but when they argue from the Bible Open Theists argue using passages that seem to limit God’s omniscience. Two Scriptures commonly cited are Genesis 6:6-7 and 1 Samuel 15:11, 35.[5] In Genesis 6:6-7 we read; “6The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”[6] Here it seems that God reacted to the actions of man, He regretted His decision to have made man. This seems contrary to the orthodox Theistic view of an immutable God who knows the entirety of the future.  In 1 Samuel 15:11 we read; “11“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.” And in 35; “35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.” Here again we see regret in God, He is seemingly critical of a decision He made. Open theists will also call on the seemingly failed prophecies found in Scripture, they seek to let God off the hook by claiming that He did not know the future and was basically working off omniscient guesswork. Clark Pinnock even cites Jesus as having made a failed prophecy.[7] In Matthew 24:2, speaking of the Temple, Jesus says; “Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” But according to Pinnock this prophecy failed because some stones where left on top of others.[8] The reason the future is uncertain, undetermined, is because God desired to have personal relationship with us and “freedom (libertarian) [is] necessary for a truly personal relationship of love to develop”.[9] The open theistic position seems to lie in direct contradiction to the historical position of orthodox theism; that is that God is totally omniscient and has exhaustive knowledge of the past, present, and future. Are open theists right? Is there a need for a new reformation; do the shackles of historical interpretation need to be thrown off? Some open theists claim that the historical consensus was deeply influenced by pagan philosophy, especially Hellenistic ideas of immutability, more than Scripture.[10] Their position, from this point of view, is a return to the Scriptural teaching; much like the Reformers objected to the Catholic position and returned to Scripture’s teaching in areas of justification, scriptural authority, and the like. Is this true? What does Scripture teach about God’s knowledge of the future, and even human freewill?

 

Let us begin by examining those Scriptures that are held up against the traditional position. Open theists conclude from the language of Genesis 6:6-7 and 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 that God could not have known the future, what was going to happen. Is that the only possibility? Theists and Open Theists acknowledge that throughout Scripture are metaphorical devices called Anthropomorphisms[11], Anthropopathisms[12], and Anthropoieses[13] used to describe God. The difference appears when we determine what exactly constitutes one of these. Open Theist Greg Boyd suggests that “ridiculousness” should be our criteria for determining what constitutes a figurative description of God. The problem with this criterion is its highly subjective nature.[14] Norman Geisler writes; “What is ridiculous to one person from one perspective is not necessarily ridiculous to another person from a different perspective. Certainly one is hard pressed to take God’s “repenting” as any less ridiculous (if taken literally) than His “forgetting.””[15] Is there any objective criterion then? We need to determine what is to be taken as figurative from both the context of the statement, and the overall context of Scripture; what about God’s nature does the rest of Scripture reveal that would show whether to take this statement as literal or figurative? In both of these verse we read of God seemingly changing his mind, repenting (KJV), but in 1 Samuel 15:29 we read “for He[God, the Glory of Israel] is not a man that He should change His mind.” Here we have a clear statement that God does not change His mind, so what are we to make of the statements that seem to indicate that He changed His mind? If they are anthropoieses then what is their purpose? Wayne Grudem writes that these expressions are God’s attitude toward a situation at a specific moment. These are expressions of His current displeasure, but not an indication that He would go back and change the situation if He could.[16] Classic Theism understands that God has known all that would happen before He even created time, even the fall and what would become of man. Just because God knew it would happen does not preclude Him from being sorrowful when it does. Grudem uses the example of a human father; “This is somewhat analogous to a human father who allows his child to embark on a course he knows will bring much sorrow, both to the parent and to the child, but who allows it nonetheless, because he knows that greater long-term good will come from it.”[17] Just because God is indeed sorrowful does not mean that He did not know what was going to happen when He created man and appointed Saul. When we read passages like 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 and Genesis 6:6-7 we are to understand that God is sorrowful with man and his actions, but not caught off guard; the language of God being “sorry” (Gen 6:6) or feeling “regret” (1 Sam. 15:11) are figurative statements that convey His sorrow in the language of finite man so that we may understand an infinite God. These Scriptures do not apparently provide a contrary understanding to that given by classical orthodox Theism, but are these teachings based in Scripture or pagan philosophy? Can we build a solid Scriptural case for the classic understanding of God’s immutability and exhaustive omniscience? Throughout Scripture we see statements of His exhaustive knowledge of what we are thinking and everything that happens. In Genesis 6:5 we read; “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Psalm 139:2-4 we find a well-known statement of God’s omniscience, David writes;

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

These passages seem to declare that God knows all things pertaining to man. We also find many passages that claim that God’s knowledge is complete, that He cannot be taught new things for He already knows everything. In Job 21:22 we read “22 “Can anyone teach God knowledge, In that He judges those on high?”” In Job 36:4; ““For truly my words are not false; One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.” And in 37:16; ““Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge”. All these verses seemingly teach that God is perfect in knowledge, that He cannot be taught; there is no provisions made for only knowing some things (Open Theists claim that God knows all things knowable, and learns about the future as it happens. But God cannot be perfect in knowledge, unlearning, if He is constantly learning new things each moment). In Psalm 147:4-5 we read that “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.” Isaiah writes “13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14). All these passages seem to indicate that God knows all things; even the future for it seems He cannot learn anything new. But are there any Scriptures that explicitly talk about God knowing the future? It turns out that there are quite a few. In Isaiah 46, verses 9-10, we read;

“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘ My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

Here God says that He declares “from ancient times things which have not been done”, this seems to clearly state that He knows the future. In Isaiah 42:-9 we read a similar statement; “Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you” (cf. Acts 15:17-18, quoting Is. 45:21). And in Matthew 6:8 Jesus, talking about prayer, tells his audience; “So do not be like them [Gentiles]; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” In all these verses God is said to know what is going to happen, to know our needs, before the events happen and before we ask for His provision. A final body of evidence comes from the plethora of Scriptures that inform us of God’s unconditional election of believers to faith from before the foundations of the earth, and His provision of Christ’s sacrifice planned before time began. In Scripture we read that God choose individuals that He would save, meaning that He had to have individual knowledge of who would exist, and that He knew those whom He chose relationally before we were born.[18] In Romans 8:29-30 we read about God’s foreknowledge of believers; “29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified”, and in Eph. 1:4 “4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (cf. Eph. 1:11, Rev. 13:8, and Matt. 25:34 on God’s preparation of His kingdom for the Church before the foundations of the world). Finally we have the Scriptures that talk about Jesus’ sacrifice being planned in ages past; the most clear of these verses is Acts 2:23-24. Peter in his sermon tells those listening that; “23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (cf. Luke 22:22, Isaiah 53:10, 1 Peter 1:20-21, Rev. 13:8). The resounding testimony of Scripture is that God has exhaustive knowledge of the past, present and future; another evidence that can be brought forth along these lines is the Scriptural record of fulfilled prophecies.

 

Earlier we looked at Open theism’s understanding of Biblical prophecy, and their belief that even Jesus made a false prophecy. Is this true, does the Bible contain records of failed prophecy made by those under the inspiration of God? Believing this places Open Theists in a perilous position. There is a logical argument called Reductio Ad Absurdum which argues against a view by showing its unwanted logical conclusion;[19] by applying this argument we see the predicament which Open Theists unintentionally find themselves. In Deuteronomy 18:21 we read of a test by which we know if a prophet is from God; ““When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” In Jeremiah 28:9 we read the positive affirmation of this test; “9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”” These verses reveal that if a prophet makes a false prediction, he is not from God. The consequence for “speaking presumptuously,” for making a false prophecy, is death. In Deut. 18:20 we read that “the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’” If Jesus made a false prophecy, and if the OT testament prophets also prophesied falsely, then none of them were from God and deserved the death penalty. That is not what Scripture teaches, Jesus was God; He could not lie, He never sinned, and He certainly was sent from God the Father. The OT prophets wrote large portions of our Scriptures, and were inspired by God to write them. If they were false prophets the theological understanding of the inerrancy of our entire cannon, which Open Theists claim to affirm, falls apart. If parts of the OT were not inspired by God, how do we determine what Scriptures we can take as inspired? And if we can’t trust Jesus about earthly things, how are we to trust Him about heavenly things (see John 3:12)? Fortunately we do not have to come to this conclusion; there are prophecies that have yet to come to pass, but none that we can declare as false. The commonly cited examples of unfilled prophecy are Gen. 37:9-11 and Acts 21:11. We are not told that they were fulfilled exactly as prophesied, but neither are we given an exhaustive record of all that happened during the times when theses prophecies could have been fulfilled. To argue that they were not fulfilled because their fulfillment is not mentioned is an argument from silence, and there is no good justification to make an argument from conspicuous absence. There is not enough evidence to support these as examples of unfulfilled prophecies and in the light of the steep price paid for being a false prophet, the Scriptures testifying of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge,[20] and the amazing testimony of fulfilled prophecy, it is probably wise to see them as having an unmentioned fulfillment. What about Jesus’ prophecy? We know that there were stones left upon one another after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., only from the Temple mount, but “other solutions exist besides the conclusion that Christ made a failed prediction.”[21] Open theists claim that they entire temple was not razed, but parts were left intact; this may not be totally correct. The entire Temple was destroyed, but the Temple Mount was not; parts of it still survive. In his Annals of the World Archbishop Ussher records that Titus commanded his soldiers to raze the entire city and temple to its foundations, and then it was ploughed.[22] Matthew Henry claims that it was razed and then ploughed in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy (Mic. 3:12).[23] Josephus records that “Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were  of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side.”[24] A segment of this western wall still remains today, we call it the Wailing Wall and it is the only remaining wall of the Temple Mount.[25] So the question is this; did Jesus mean the Temple and the Temple Mount, or just the Temple? If He was referring to the temple proper then His prophecy was fulfilled within 50 years of His crucifixion. Some writers also explain Jesus prophecy by claiming that “Christ could have been using hyperbole to indicate the totality of the destruction.”[26] A last explanation is that, like much Biblical prophecy, Jesus’ prophecy had both immediate and eschatological elements intertwined.[27] It is clear that we do not have to accept Jesus’ prophecy as failed. In fact there is much evidence to accept it as fulfilled (or partially fulfilled with a later completion to come). Jesus’ prophecy is just one of many prophecies that we read about in the Bible with clear fulfilments, and each of these gives testimony to God’s exhaustive foreknowledge.

In Isaiah 44:28 we read of an astounding prophecy; “28 It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘ She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”” In Isaiah 44-45 we read a prophecy that God would use Cyrus to restore Judah from its exile in Babylon and institute the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem. Isaiah’s ministry took place circa 739-681 B.C., during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.[28] To understand how breathtaking this prophecy is you have to look at what was happening at this time, and what was going to happen.  In 722 B.C. the northern kingdom, Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians[29] and its people dispersed throughout the kingdom of Assyria. The Northern Kingdom was punished for its idolatry and Isaiah was aware of this; he knew that the southern kingdom was destined for exile like its northern brother.[30] Assyria later threatened Judah and Isaiah prophesied to Hezekiah during this time and told the king that the Babylonian empire, which conquered Assyria, would take the treasures Hezekiah had let its rulers see. This happened longer after Isaiah had died, but He prophesied of Judah’s exile in Babylon and its eventual restoration at the hands of Cyrus. Isaiah’s ministry was from 739-681 B.C.; Babylon destroyed Israel circa. 587 B.C.,[31] and in 539 B.C., Over 140 after Isaiah’s ministry is thought to have ended, Cyrus, ruler of the Persian and Median empire, conquered Babylon. A year later he signed a decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem and work on restoring the temple.[32]  Isaiah’s prophecy came true. God, through Isaiah, prophesied by name who would restore His people; this seems like powerful evidence for his exhaustive knowledge of the future. Let us look at three prophecies about Jesus and his betrayal. In Micah 5:2 we read; ““But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One [the Messiah] will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”” In Matthew 2:1 we read that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, and this is where they raised Jesus (which is why He was called a Nazarene, Mark 10:27), but were called to Bethlehem because of a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). In Psalms 22:18 it is prophesied about his captors; “18They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” In Matthew 27:35 we read that this is exactly what they did. Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, but the last one we will look at is an incredibly precise prophecy of His betrayal. In Zechariah 11:12-13 we read;

12I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

This is a prophecy of the price that would be paid for Jesus’ betrayal. In Matthew 26:15 we read that Judas was given thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus, and in Matthew 27:3-10 we read of the fulfillment of the rest of this prophecy. Judas gave the money back to the elders and chief priests, who then bought with it a potter’s field.

These prophecies seem to provide incontrovertible evidence for God’s absolute omniscience, but my friend who first asked me for my opinion on open theism offered this answer in response. He suggested that the reason these prophecies were fulfilled was not because God knew the future, but that He determined them to happen. He prophesied what would happen, and then like a master chess player He used His omnipotence to ensure their fulfillment without every knowing what the future would actually look like. First off; if God is determining the future to turn out exactly as He predicted doesn’t that mean that in a way He knows the future? The biggest problem with this answer is that the very reason Open theism exists is because of an adherence to Libertarian freewill and its proponents believe in a non-deterministic universe with libertarian free will. If God used His omnipotence to make Judas betray Jesus, to make the priests pay him exactly thirty pieces of silver, and make them buy a potter’s field, the idea of libertarian freewill is no longer valid. For all of these prophecies to be fulfilled without God’s knowledge of the future it would require God to infringe on the human freewill Open Theists claim we have. The testimony of the fulfilled prophecies found throughout Scripture is amazing evidence of our God’s omniscience and His unimaginable knowledge. One last argument[33] can be made for God’s exhaustive knowledge of the future, and that is from His various other attributes revealed in Scripture.

 

We can argue from at least two parts of God’s revealed nature that He has exhaustive knowledge of the future, the first is His eternality. The historical and Evangelical understanding of God’s eternality is that He is timeless; He is not infinite in time but existing outside time itself. We can argue for this understanding both Scripturally and Philosophically. We often have the tendency to think of time as an abstract concept, but time itself is a tangible concept. We can measure time, and it is affected by the physical forces of our universe; Einstein’s theories of Relativity tell us that time is affected by the velocity of a system[34] and can be effected by the forces of gravity. Time measures the succession of events and is inseparable from space and matter, “none can be examined in isolation from the others.”[35] Being inseparable from space, time had to come into existence with it. We understand that when Genesis 1:1 reads “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” this is creation Ex Nihilo, out of nothing. In the beginning God created all matter that makes up our universe, space itself, and time. The argument for creation Ex Nihilo is made from various Scriptures. In John 1:3 we read that “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” In Colossians 1:16 we read; “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.” And lastly Hebrews 1:2 tells us that “2 in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” These Scriptures tells us that through the Son all things were created, both spiritual and physical. Scripture also teaches us that God is uncreated, from the first verse of Genesis the existence of God is presupposed, and in John 1:1 we read; “In the beginning was the Word.” Orthodoxy understands God to be the only uncaused cause; He created all things but is Himself uncreated. God’s revelation of His name, in Exodus 3:14, and Jesus’ statement that “Before Abraham was, I am”(in John 5:58) testify to God’s timelessness and self-existence. Of these statements Wayne Grudem writes;

God’s eternity…. Is also indicated in Jesus’ bold use of a present tense verb that implies continuing present existence when he replied to his Jewish adversaries [in John 8:58]… This statement is itself an explicit claiming of the name of God, “I AM WHO I AM,” from Exodus 3:14, a name that also suggests a continual present existence; God is the eternal “I Am,” the one who eternally exists.[36]

Being eternal, without beginning, God has to exist apart from time.

This can be shown from the philosophical argument of the impossibility of traversing infinity. If you have an infinite succession of events you can never reach what we would call the present. To reach the present you would have to traverse an infinite amount of events that precede it, which is impossible.  Since there is a present there had to be a beginning of time, and therefore everything that is in time would have to have had a beginning. If God is outside of time as we know it then He is not constrained by a succession of events; His eternal existence is not an endless span of time, but an existence without the passing of time. Scripture testifies to His eternality and this timelessness in various places. In Psalm 90:2 the psalmist declares that “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” In Job 36:26 we are told that “the number of His years is unsearchable.” In Psalm 102:27 the Psalmist contrasts God with the works of His hands which perish, declaring that; “You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” Lastly Isaiah writes; “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy” (Isaiah 57:45). All these verses declare that God is everlasting; this could indicate an infinite existence within time, but there are two verses which seem to indicate that the nature of His existence is apart from time as we know it. In Psalm 90:4 we read; “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.” And in his second letter Peter writes; “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (3:8). These verses show that God does not experience time in any way like we do. The idea of a correspondence between God’s time and our time, maybe 1 human day = 1000 God days, is obliterated by both Peter’s statement that one day is like a thousand years to the Lord, but a thousand years is also like one day to Him, and the Psalmist’s statement that a thousand years in God’s sight is like yesterday, or as a watch in the night.[37] It has been shown that God exists outside of time, but how does this pertain to our understanding of His omniscience? The traditional understanding of His timelessness has been illustrated in many ways, one way is this; picture a curved line with a beginning and an end, this line is time, a succession of events. Just as someone standing on the earth cannot see its entire circumference (because, even if the physical limitations of our eyesight could be overcome, the curve of the earth renders incredibly distance objects beyond the horizon), a person at any point on this line cannot see the next event until he reaches it because the curve blocks his view. Now picture God being at the center of this curved line; from His perspective He could see the beginning and the end, as well as all points in between, while the person travelling along the line only sees time as it progresses.[38] God does not see time passing

in a linear fashion and so His knowledge of the future is not constrained by observing a succession of events, proceding one after another; “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.”[39] Another argument that can be made from God’s nature is an argument from His infinity.  Norman Geisler summarizes this argument quite well in his Systematic Theology;

All theists agree that God is infinite (without limits), and God’s knowledge is identical to His nature, since He is simple. God must know according to His Being; therefore, God must know infinitely. To be limited in knowledge of the future is not to know infinitely; hence, God’s infinite knowledge must include everything, including all future events. If it did not, He would be limited in His knowledge.[40]

 

Arguments from direct Scriptural teaching, inferences from fulfilled prophecy, and the implications of God’s nature all seem to point resoundingly to the conclusion that God’s knowledge is truly infinite; exhaustive in reference to the past, the present, and the future. Open theism attacks the very nature of God in an attempt to marry Scripture with philosophy and in the process takes away from doctrine that should leave us awestruck before our Maker. All theology should lead to doxology; the doctrine of God’s omniscience is no exception. In Romans 11:33 Paul writes “33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Paul praises God for in for His omniscience! This doctrine should be a comfort to all Christians and should lead us into worship of our amazing God. Because God knows the future, knows what will happen to each of us individually, we can take His promise in Romans 8:28 to heart; God knows everything we will experience and will make all things, including all the incredibly hard trials we will face, work out for our good. Because He knows the future we can be sure that He will have victory in the end and that, as Romans 8:28-30 teaches, all whom God has called from before He laid the foundations of the world will come to faith in Jesus Christ, will be justified, and will persevere to be Glorified (cf. 1 Peter 1:5, and read this post). God has seen everything we will go through and has promised that we will persevere through His sustaining power working through our faith; nothing will be able to snatch us out of the fathers hand (John 10:27-30). Because of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge we can truly believe that the Scriptures we have are effective for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) to make us “adequate” (v. 17b) and are sufficient to equip us for “every good work” (v. 17c).  Hallelujah to our omniscient, timeless, mighty, and self-existent King.

                                                                                                    

Arnold, Bill T, and Bryan Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament : a Christian survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Cantelmo, Gregg. “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site.” Bible.org, March 8, 2006. http://wap.bible.org/article/examination-open-theism.

Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (429). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Geisler, Norman L. Systematic theology : in one volume. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2011.

Gitt, Werner. Time and eternity. Neptune, N.J.; Bielefeld, Germany: Loizeaux ; Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 2001.

Grenz, Stanley J, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket dictionary of theological terms. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic theology : an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.

Josephus, Flavius. Josephus: The complete works. Translated by William Whiston. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1998.

“Libertarian Free Will.” Theopedia: An Encyclopedia of Christianity, n.d. http://www.theopedia.com/Libertarian_free_will.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Ussher, James, Larry Pierce, and Marion Pierce. The Annals of the World. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2010.

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

“Www.opentheism.info » Welcome to the Open Theism Information Site.” Opentheism.info, n.d. http://www.opentheism.info/.


[1]Interpreting Scriptures through the eyes of the original readers to determine the authorial intent behind the text. This is done by looking at the historical cultural context with which the text is found, its literary context, and the original grammar of which the text is built.

[2] “Www.opentheism.info » Welcome to the Open Theism Information Site.,” Opentheism.info, n.d., http://www.opentheism.info/.

[3] Libertarian freewill means that our choices are free from determination or constraints of our human nature, or God’s predetermination. Many adherents to this view believe that the future cannot be known; for if it is known then we no longer have free will because all decisions are predetermined. From this view believing in human free will necessitate a belief that God does not know the future. “Libertarian Free Will,” Theopedia: An Encyclopedia of Christianity, n.d., http://www.theopedia.com/Libertarian_free_will.

[4] “Www.opentheism.info » Welcome to the Open Theism Information Site.”

[5] Gregg Cantelmo, “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site,” Bible.org, March 8, 2006, http://wap.bible.org/article/examination-open-theism.

[6] All Scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise stated. New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[7] Gregg Cantelmo, “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site,” Bible.org, March 8, 2006, http://wap.bible.org/article/examination-open-theism.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Www.opentheism.info » Welcome to the Open Theism Information Site.”

[10] Cantelmo, “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site.”

[11] Anthropomorphisms attribute to God physical attributes: an example would be Heb. 4:13 which describes God as having eyes, but we know that God is Spirit and as such does not have a physical form with eyes (John 4:24). Stanley J Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket dictionary of theological terms (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999).

[12]  Anthropopathisms “picture God having changing human feelings like anger and grief (Eph. 4:30)”.Norman L Geisler, Systematic theology : in one volume (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2011), 415.

[13]  Anthropoieses “attribute to God human actions”. Ibid.

[14] Ibid., 445.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Wayne Grudem, Systematic theology : an introduction to biblical doctrine (Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994), 165.

[17] Ibid.

[18] We read that God knew us relationally in the verse where we read that God “foreknew” (eg. Rom. 8:29). This word indicates personal foreknowledge. See the discussion in the editors note D93 in Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. Also see Ibid., 676–677.

[19] As opposed to the fallacy “Slippery Slope” which judges a position by an end result that does not necessarily follow from that position (an example would be the idiom “give somebody an inch and they will take a mile,” the ‘somebody’ taking a mile is not an inevitable consequence of giving an inch).

[20] Foreknowledge is a little bit figurative to use because God is actually outside of time, as we will see later, and because of this sees the future, past, and present simultaneously.

[21] Cantelmo, “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site.” Par. 26

[22] James Ussher, Larry Pierce, and Marion Pierce, The Annals of the World (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2010), 880.

[23] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Mt 24:1–3). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[24] Flavius Josephus, Josephus: The complete works, trans. William Whiston (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1998), 900. The War of the Jews, 7.1

[25] Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (429). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[26] Cantelmo, “An Examination Of Open Theism | Bible.org – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site.” Par. 26

[27] Ibid.

[28] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). Vol. 1: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (1029). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid, 1031.

[31] Bill T Arnold and Bryan Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament : a Christian survey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008), 368.

[32] Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures; Is 44:24–28.

[33] There are many more, but this is the last one we will make.

[34] Werner Gitt, Time and eternity (Neptune, N.J.; Bielefeld, Germany: Loizeaux ; Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 2001), 31.

[35] Ibid., 43.

[36] Grudem, Systematic theology, 169.

[37] A watch in the night was roughly 4 hours. Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Ps 90:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[38] As with all illustrations of God’s attributes this falls far short of explaining it completely, and readers should not read anything more into this illustration than its intended impart.

[39] Grudem, Systematic theology, 168.

[40] Geisler, Systematic theology, 497.

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